I have a confession. I’m bad about volunteering. It’s something I think is really important and something I think should be done. But I’m horrible at it.
Here’s a few reasons why:
- I guard my time ferociously. Free time is a scarce commodity and I hate to give it up. I especially hate committing to giving it up on a regular basis.
- My schedule is a mess. Right now, due to a bought of work travel, I never know when I’m going to be home. I can’t commit anything more than a few days in advance and even then, it’s subject to change. That drives the A-type planner in me nuts. But even when I’m not traveling, it always seems like I’m too busy.
- I don’t want to do it alone. I want to have someone with me. The introvert inside me cringes at the thought of walking in to a group of strangers and trying to figure out what to talk about, if I should talk at all, for a couple of hours. But if one schedule is hard to pull together, imagine two.
- And here’s the kicker: It’s overwhelming. There are so many tragedies. There are so many good causes. There are so many injustices in the world that I don’t know where to begin. So I don’t. I feel the anxiety of having to choose and just shut down and choose nothing.
Do any of those sound familiar to you?
I thought they might. But here’s the thing, if every one says I’m too busy or too overwhelmed and puts their heads down and walks away, nothing will change. Those injustices will continue to go on, and now they’re on our heads because we could’ve done something to help and we didn’t.
Matthew 25:34-40 says, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
The next verses detail what happens when we don’t look after “the least of these,” and believe me when I tell you it’s not pretty. So if you need any other reason to look beyond yourself into the hurting world around you, let it be that.
So here are some things you and I can do to combat those fears and problems:
- Loosen your grip a little. Trust me, I really understand not wanting to give up your free time, but when you weight an hour or two out of your week against helping children find safe homes and food or helping abused women regain their confidence and independence or helping make world a better place for just one person, in any way… well, I think I know what will tip the scales.
- Find something you can do flexibly or at home. Right now, it really is impossible to nail me down on a date. I couldn’t even schedule a needed doctor’s visit it was that bad. So I’ve gotten involved/created two organizations that I can contribute to wherever I’m at. The first is Sole Hope, I wrote an article on it a few months back. They’re doing some truly incredible things. The second is a sister organization growing up alongside Safe Families for Children, called Covered in Love. I am creating handmade blankets for the young boys and girls who are entering temporary homes to give them something to hold on to while everything changes around them. You can find other opportunities like this, or you can steal mine!
- Find a friend or make one. Even if you have to plan it a month in advance, schedule an afternoon or evening with a friend to do something to help out. If there’s absolutely no way you can do that then… well… you and me, we’ll just have to get over it. The cool thing is, when you’re volunteering, you have common cause. And that’s a pretty goo place to start a friendship.
- Close your eyes and point. Not really, but to some extent, it’s true. Here’s the thing, you can’t fight every cause. You can’t win every battle. So you’ve just got to pick one. That doesn’t mean that you have to stick to it for the rest of your life, but you’re going to cover a lot more ground fighting on one front than you are on fifty.
For me, I’m doing what I can to help children have a better, safer, happier life in my own community and in South Africa. What will it be for you?
Do you volunteer? If so, what cause are you taking on? If no, what’s holding you back?